This originally appeared on Out of Wilderness, a blog by freelance writer and animal advocate Jacalyn Beales

Each year, the natural habitats of species and humans across the globe are negatively degraded, destroyed and exploited by the harsh impacts which accompany the use of synthetic, artificial and damaging ingredients in our beauty products. The sourcing for such ingredients further contributes to the destruction of the environment, and now more than ever signifies a need for a shift in the products we use to care for ourselves that ultimately harm our planet and fellow sentient beings.

If you’ve been keeping up with my blog or writing, it’s likely become obvious by now that I’m mainly concerned with wildlife issues and topics of sustainable, eco-friendly living. Out of Wilderness was born after months of reading many an article, blog and digital magazine whose collective focus is reporting on wildlife conflict. I needed an outlet where I could express my own thoughts, opinions, views and investigations into the plights and threats facing Africa’s lions.

My good friend and fellow advocate, Nathan Friesen, runs an amazing blog called Wilderness & Wanderlust. He is the person who inspired me to put my thoughts into a blog.

Despite the wildlife writing and activism, behind closed doors I’m also a natural-beauty junkie with a [slightly narcissistic] fear of aging poorly thanks to many years of naively “caring” for my skin, using products filled to the brim with artificial ingredients, palm derivatives and more. Ask anyone who knows me, and they will tell you just how annoying I can be about proper skincare regimens and the importance of avoiding non-vegan beauty stuffs.

The thing is…it’s not at all uncommon for brands to greenwash their products in order to ploy customers into buying (and subsequently using) “eco-friendly,” “green” or even “vegan” products. Like cub petting in Africa, many brands rely on a person’s naiveté when it comes to the truth about greenwashing, in order to con you into believing a product is 100% ethical when, in reality, it isn’t. Greenwashing is a very real struggle in the world of eco-beauty, just as it is in ecotourism.

A great example of greenwashing when it comes to eco-beauty is LUSH Cosmetics. For four years, I used and abused the entire range of this brand’s products with such blissful ignorance that I never stopped to question just what the hell was really in my pot of $50 moisturizer, or bottle of $20 body wash. I saw the pretty packaging, the cruelty-free ethos and fell head over heels into the vat of total crap that is LUSH Cosmetics. Here’s the thing: LUSH is not and never has been a palm-free company.

Most of their products are made of fragrances and perfumes — additives which do nothing for your skin, hair or otherwise. Their products are also packaged irresponsibly, as despite the recycled material, skincare packaged in jars and pots allows for air, moisture and bacteria to seep in and ruin the product each time the jar or pot is opened; it’s also no secret that dipping your fingers and hands into a pot or jar of product disperses germs and bacteria. People have for years been complaining about the tragic little black pots that make up much of LUSH’s marketing scheme, but the overall greenwashing of LUSH’s use of sulphates, parabens, and more makes the brand a classic example of cult-greenwashing.

If you’re an animal advocate like yours truly, chances are are you watch out for the ingredients in your beauty products and are likely trying to avoid palm oil, as many people now do. In the spirit of spreading awareness about certain wildlife animal issues, here’s a list of beauty alternatives that are 100% vegan and palm-free. Rejoice!

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CAMP SKINCARE

CAMP is a Toronto-based skincare brand that I love, and not just because it’s Canadian. Every product from this brand’s range of skincare is 100% vegan and palm-free. Though the packaging is adorable, what’s even better about this brand is that the ingredients list of each product includes natural, organic and cruelty-free extracts and botanicals. For quality, natural skincare, it’s also quite cost-effective.

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FAT AND THE MOON

Fat and the Moon crafts organic, palm-free and vegan beauty products brimming with natural ingredients. Every product is a safe, chemical-free alternative to the typical beauty products you might be tempted to buy at the local drugstore. The brand’s Founder, Rachel Budde, creates handcrafted, herbal products that not only look great, but are great. 100% vegan, natural and totally rad beauty, sans guilt.

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HARLOW SKIN CO.

Another stellar Canadian company crafting uniquely palm-free and vegan products, HARLOW SKIN CO. produces beauty products free from additives, preservatives and all the nasty stuff in between. Using whole ingredients sourced from around the globe, this Vancouver-based brand represents a shift in sustainable beauty and is focused on the health and well-being of using natural products.

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AQUARIAN SOUL

Herbalist Ally Sands began creating crystal-infused beauty products in 2013, combining it with traditional herbal medicine to create Aquarian Soul. Every product is made using a small-batch process, infused with 100% organic and wildcrafted ingredients. Completely plant-based, Aquarian Soul is also 100% vegan and palm-free.

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EARTH TU FACE

This innovative brand began in 2010 and has been providing customers with 100% plant-based, palm-free beauty/skincare products ever since. Free of synthetic compounds and harmful toxins, each product is designed using natural ingredients that heal, restore and rejuvenate the skin. As the brand says, “We believe that you should never put on your skin what you wouldn’t put in your mouth.”

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WOODLOT

A quintessentially Canadian brand, Woodlot is mostly known for its candles but also has a nice range of beauty products that are 100% vegan and palm-free. From soap bars to bath soaks, this Vancouver-based brand has stellar candles and beauty products perfect for those at-home spa days when you need a break from advocating against trophy hunting and need a little “you” time.

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URBAN OREGANICS

Created by a vegan, but crafted for everyone, Urban Oreganics offers palm-free and 100% vegan beauty products that definitely put an eco-friendly spin on “urban” and “organic.” It’s not just the fact that the packaging is super pretty; each product is 100% natural and designed by a woman dedicated to offering her customers the best in organic skincare. Plus, who doesn’t love a vegan lip butter? NO ONE.


A LITTLE BIT ABOUT PALM OIL

Palm oil and its subsequent derivatives are common additives in beauty and skincare products. But palm oil is extremely destructive to natural habitats and contributes greatly to species decline. According to Selva Beat, the world’s first palm-free + vegan quarterly, over fifty-million tonnes of palm oil is produced each year to fill roughly half of the products you typically buy in stores. This includes beauty and skincare.

“Palm-oil will not always be labeled as such. In most countries, it can pass under the term “vegetable oil.” If you’re looking at toothpaste, shampoo, detergent, lotion, mascara, or any other item then the palm-oil will likely take the form of a derivative like glycerin, emulsifiers, stearates, etc. ”

— Selva Beat